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Alabama bans diversity, equity and inclusion programmes in colleges | Education News


The bill, known as SB129, bans publicly-funded institutions from maintaining DEI offices or teaching what the bill calls ‘divisive concepts’ about race and identity.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill banning diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programmes in publicly-funded colleges, making the southern state one of the latest Republican-led states to enact broad measures against what they claim is a leftward tilt in US education.

The bill, known as SB129, bans institutions from maintaining DEI offices or teaching what the bill calls “divisive concepts” about race and identity, including discussions of whether “slavery and racism are aligned with the founding principles of the United States”. It authorises state agencies to “discipline or terminate employees or contractors who violate” the law.

It also requires them to designate toilets as only for men or women, a move against transgender rights advocates’ push for gender-neutral toilets.

“My administration has and will continue to value Alabama’s rich diversity, however, I refuse to allow a few bad actors … go under the acronym of DEI, using taxpayer funds, to push their liberal political movement,” Ivey said in a statement.

The law is due to take effect in October.

DEI initiatives in US schools

Republicans have rallied around opposition to DEI initiatives in US education, claiming that diversity-focused curricula and hiring practices are part of an alleged liberal agenda to sow division and, in some cases, to discriminate against white people.

Supporters of such initiatives say they aim to promote equality for underrepresented groups.

“This is not only a form of classroom censorship,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said in a statement opposing the legislation.

“It’s an anti-truth bill which curtails an education on systemic inequities, racial violence, and the historic efforts to gain civil rights and civil liberties for marginalized communities throughout our nation’s history.”

Texas led the charge against DEI with legislation that forced institutions to close their diversity offices last year. Utah’s governor signed similar legislation earlier this year, and several other states have introduced anti-DEI bills during their current legislative sessions.

Randall Woodfin, the mayor of Birmingham in Alabama, last month expressed his support for Black athletes exploring opportunities at universities beyond the state should the bill be enacted into law.

“To the State of Alabama: Why would you make it illegal for institutions of higher learning to promote diversity and inclusion among its faculty and staff? Why would you block fair representation and opportunities for all people,” Woodfin wrote on X on February 29.

“Although I’m the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organising Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritised,” he added, referring to the University of Alabama.

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